In this irresistible memoir, the #1 New York Times bestselling author writes about her life and the lives of women today, looking back and ahead - and celebrating it all - as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all that stuff in our closets, and more.
It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn't know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I'd invented. And finally I was what I was again.
It turned out I wasn't alone in that particular progression.
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages, Quindlen talks about
Marriage: "A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn't believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation."
Girlfriends: "Real friends offer both hard truths and soft landings and realize that it's sometimes more important to be nice than to be honest."
Our bodies: "I've finally recognized my body for what it is, a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It's like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine."
Parenting: "Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward: We are good parents, not so they will be loving enough to stay with us, but so they will be strong enough to leave us."
From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it both satisfying and even joyful. So here's to lots of candles, plenty of cake.
ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
RECENTLY MY TWENTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER ASKED ME
what message I would give to my own twenty-two-year-old self if I could travel back in time. I instantly had two responses, one helpful, one not. On the one hand, I would tell my younger self that she should stop listening to anyone who wanted to smack her down, that she was smart enough, resourceful and hardworking enough, pretty terrific in general. On the other hand, I would have to break the bad news: that she knew nothing, really, about anything that mattered. Nothing at all. Not a clue.
You don't know what you don't know when you're young. How could you? People who are older nod sagely and say you'll learn - about love, about marriage, about failing and falling down and getting up and trying to stagger on toward success, about work and children and what really matters, in general and to you. It's not, they'll say, what's on your business card, ...
Oh wow, does Quindlen ever get it! Her essays are insightful, perceptive, poignant and wise as she addresses so much of our shared Boomer experiences: marriage and kids, the importance of girlfriends, expectations and let-downs, aging, and premonitions of mortality (Jill S). I thought Quindlen was talking about me and as I read - sentence after sentence, word after word - I was convinced she was writing my thoughts, my feelings. Her searching examination of her adventures is touching, loving, and joyful. Her wisdom is obvious (Bob S).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1187 words).
Anna Quindlen's memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake has received rave reviews from BookBrowse readers, but it is just one of her many beloved books; check out the list below for more information on her novels:
Every Last One (2010): Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a woman's love and determination, and to the invisible line of ...
If you liked Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, try these:
Scorchingly honest, surreally and riotously funny, I See You Made an Effort is the ultimate coming-of-middle-age story and a must-read for women of all ages. Reading glasses not included.
Combining the soul-baring insight of Wild, the profound wisdom of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the adventurous spirit of Eat, Pray, Love: Lynn Darling's powerful, lyrical memoir of self-discovery, full of warmth and wry humor, Out of the Woods.
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